Aung San Suu Kyi to Make Five-Day Visit to China

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burma-assk-mine-march-2013.jpg Aung San Suu Kyi (r) speaks with a resident (l) of a village near the copper mine in Sagaing division, March 14, 2013.

Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will make her first visit to China next week, her National League for Democracy (NLD) party and China said on Friday.

The 1991 Nobel Laureate will visit Beijing from June 10-14 in the capacity of chairwoman of the NLD for inter-party exchanges with China's Communist Party, China's Foreign Ministry said.

“Aung San Suu Kyi will meet the Chinese president and prime minister. It is an important trip as Myanmar and China have a long border and as there are many problems along this border area,” said NLD spokesperson Nyan Win.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a news briefing that “China has maintained long-term friendship with Myanmar's various parties including the National League for Democracy."

"We hope to further enhance bilateral communication and understanding through this visit to push ahead with the friendship development between China and Myanmar in various areas," he said of Aung San Suu Kyi's planned meetings with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.

Senior NLD official Win Htein told RFA’s Myanmar Service the trip was important because “this is the first time China’s Communist Party invited Aung San Suu Kyi.”

“I think we would have a better relationship between NLD and Chinese Communist Party as well as between Myanmar Government and Chinese Government,” he said in an interview.

China was a close supporter of the military junta that kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for near two decades, but Myanmar’s transition since 2011 to a quasi-civilian government and partial democratization has seen the former Burma embraced by the United States, causing some wariness in staunchly authoritarian Beijing.

Ties became strained earlier this year after a conflict in the Myanmar’s Kokang region on the border with China flared up in February and stray shells from the Myanmar army killed five Chinese farmers. China conducted live-fire military drills in the region this week.

Win Htein declined to comment on the military issue, and stressed the NLD’s intention to forge better ties with China.

“Aung San Suu Kyi often said that we can’t select or choose neighboring countries. It is better to have a good relationship with any neighboring country and she will try to have good relationship with neighboring countries,” he told RFA.

Reported by Zin Mar Win and Kyaw Thu for RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khet Mar. Written in English by Paul Eckert.


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